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Tipsheet

House Judiciary Republicans Call Out White House, POLITICO for Working Together on Story Leak

Michaels Reynolds/Pool via AP

This article has been updated to include a piece from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). 

The 118th Congress is set to begin in less than a week, during which Republicans have planned their investigations into the Biden administration. The investigations were announced over a month ago, but POLITICO just now is reporting on Thursday morning that the White House is ordering Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY) to restart their investigations. "White House to Jim Jordan, James Comer: Sorry, but you have to restart your oversight requests," reads Heidi Przybyla's headline. 

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To add insult to injury, the White House appears to have briefed POLITICO ahead of time, by Przybyla's own admission. The House Judiciary GOP refers to such as a "LEAK." Going by Judiciary Republicans' timeline, the White House sent Reps. Jordan and Comer the letter minutes before publication, and only after the piece was published were they asked for comment. The piece as it currently stands doesn't even include comment or mention of a request for comment. 

The letter in question comes from White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber. Przybyla's reporting mentions that the letter was "obtained exclusively by POLITICO," which is certainly one way to put it was leaked beforehand. The letter claims that Reps. Jordan and Comer, who are expected to be House Judiciary Committee Chairman and House Oversight Committee, respectively, sent the record requests before they had the power to do so. 

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"A top lawyer for the president pledged in letters to those members that the administration would operate in good faith with them. But he also said that oversight demands made by congressional Republicans during the last Congress would have to be started over," is how Przybla also characterized the letter. House Judiciary Republicans don't believe such is actually the case when it comes to the administration operating in "good faith."

It looks like this could be just a preview of what's to come as the administration may refuse to comply with oversight requests. Emphasis is added to show POLITICO's knowledge ahead of time:

Sauber did not rule out satisfying the requests once the next Congress is sworn in. But his letter nevertheless represents the first volley in what is likely to be a contentious and potentially litigious two years between House Republicans and the Biden White House. More narrowly, it is an apparent effort to shield the administration from a hail of potential subpoenas in early January by describing them as an abuse of the normal process of congressional oversight.

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White House officials, who briefed POLITICO, point to long-standing practice, going back to President Ronald Reagan’s administration, that ranking members in the minority do not jump-start the accommodations process on formal investigative requests. Sauber’s letter tells Jordan and Comer they should not expect records requests to be satisfied before they take their committee’s respective gavels.

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The tweets also point to how the leak shows how "scared" President Joe Biden and his administration "are of important congressional oversight," mentioning one of the investigations they are looking to conduct, in which parents were targeted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and labeled as domestic terrorists for protesting at school board meetings, something the administration has covered up. This was just one of many concerns about the politicization of the DOJ that House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee laid out in a report from November 4.

The last tweet in the thread emphasizes the importance of these investigations and warns to "Get ready" for them to "hit the ground running on January 3rd," now just five days away. 

House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is likely to become the next Speaker of the House, also chimed in with a similar message to hold Democrats accountable, retweeting the House Judiciary GOP's thread. His tweet also made a noteworthy mention of how Democrats and the mainstream media working together, pointing to "the media sweeping essential oversight under the rug."

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